Core Research Facilities

SF BUILD Scholars begin their training by participating in summer research rotations at SF State and UCSF. ​Through these rotations they are exposed to community-engaged, trans-disciplinary research that is supported by resources available in the Health & Equity Research (HER) lab. Following the rotations, SF BUILD Scholars are accepted into labs at either SF State or UCSF to conduct independent research projects for the remainder of the two-year program. During this time the HER lab remains available ​to SF BUILD Scholars, and cultivates collaborations with researchers at SF State, UCSF and local communit​y-based organizations. ​

Prior funding from the SF BUILD project led to creation of the SOUL facility, which also remains available for collaboration with members of the SF State, UCSF, and local communities.

Health Equity Research (HER) Lab

Dr. Leticia Márquez-Magaña, Lab Director, and Rebecca Mendez, Lab Manager

  • Overview: The HER Lab is a state-of-the-art facility that uses biomedical tools and techniques to address health disparities. Lab members collect and process saliva, blood, and hair (i.e., human biospecimens) to generate data aimed at discovering how diseases are caused or worsened by social environmental conditions that are disproportionately experienced by underserved communities. Methods, including ELISA and quantitative PCR, are used to measure biological and environmental markers like cortisol, oxytocin, lead, and telomere length in the collected biospecimens. The lab also looks at how interventions may help reduce and prevent disease. All findings are shared with the communities from which the biospecimens and intervention data were collected, and are used in efforts to reduce local health disparities.
  • Scholars: The HER Lab offers SF BUILD Scholars the opportunity to “give back” by conducting hands-on research on questions relevant to local underserved communities. Lab members work with SF BUILD Scholars to increase their knowledge of ethical laboratory practices, how to collect and analyze biospecimens using culturally sensitive approaches, community-engaged, trans-disciplinary approaches to formulating and addressing research questions, and how to share research findings for the greatest benefit to community health. 
  • Collaborators: The HER Lab is available to the SF State community, as well as local community partners looking to investigate biomedical questions relevant to health disparities. The lab’s mission is to work with communities to bring about health equity.

Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity (SOUL) Lab 

Established through BUILD I Funding

Dr. Antwi Akom, Lab Director; Aekta Shah, Lab Manager; and Tessa Cruz, SOUL Research Coordinator

  • Overview: SOUL is the first joint research lab between SF State and UCSF. The lab focuses on geospatial approaches to addressing biomedical research questions relevant to local communities. SOUL researchers design and apply emerging technologies with our nation's most vulnerable populations.  Experts ranging from public health, medicine, ethnic studies, and big data (large data sets that can reveal insights into human behavior and interactions) work with community members to advance biomedical research through technology. Our research projects range from the Geography of Homelessness, A Children’s Map of Oakland, to improving prevention and early detection of cancer. At SOUL we create projects that lift up local knowledge using participatory technology, clinical research, population studies, CPBR, and big data to empower communities, cities, and the world's most vulnerable populations.
  • Scholars: SF BUILD scholars are trained to use SOUL’s research methodologies including data visualization, participatory technology, big data, and community-based participatory action research (CBPR), which involves all stakeholders in the research process. SOUL for SF BUILD consists of seminars, workshops, and trainings that focus on geospatial approaches to biomedical research questions that address the 21st century challenges of health equity, health disparities, and health promotion. Scholars also receive mentorship from UCSF and SF State faculty, faculty affiliates, and leading data visualization and Big Data industry partners such as Google, Aclima, and leading non-profits to ensure that students are exposed to a range of career options and ways to “give back” to their local communities.
  • Collaborators: SOUL is available as a resource to researchers at SF State and UCSF who are interested in the lab's unique approach to data visualization, big data, and participatory approaches to address biomedical challenges facing society. SOUL has a built a robust learning network that allows it to collaborate with community-based organizations and high-profile collaborators, including Google and Aclima, which allow it to bring cutting-edge technological innovations to campus and communities.